May 1-November 30: Starting in May, Hermanus, South Africa, turns into a fantastic base for whale-watching. Along this stretch of the famous Garden Route, it’s not even necessary to get into a boat to observe the whales passing by.
May 6: The central German town of Wolfenbüttel hosts the 10th annual “Buspulling” tournament, in which teams of five attempt to pull a 16-ton bus across the finish line the fastest. The Buspulling Masters teams take the sport quite seriously, but amateurs can compete in the “Buspulling Fun” race.
May 6-20: During the Grand Sumo Tournament, the world’s top sumo wrestlers clash at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan hall. Held each January, May and September, these tournaments are more than just big guys bashing into each other; sumo wrestling runs deep with ancient traditions and ceremonies. This tournament presents a perfect opportunity to experience sumo wrestling at its best.
May 15-September 3: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibits an array of masterpieces from Bergamo, Italy’s Accademia Carrara, which is currently closed for renovations. The “Bellini, Titian and Lotto” exhibition will feature 15 masterpieces from these and other notable northern Italian Renaissance painters.
May 16-September 3: Not to be outdone, Chicago’s Art Institute hosts “Roy Liechtenstein: A Retrospective,” the first major retrospective of this Pop artist’s work since his death in 1997. The exhibition assembles more than 130 paintings and sculptures, including rarely seen pre-Pop expressionist-style works, nudes and Chinese-style landscapes.
May 22-26: The grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea turn into a horticultural paradise during the annual Chelsea Flower Show. The show gardens and flower displays inevitably dazzle, and tickets can be hard to come by — reserve as far in advance as possible.
May 23-27: Florence’s squares are given over to one of Italy’s most irresistible treats during the third annual Gelato Festival. Surely some people attend the gelato-making classes and presentations about the culture of this frozen delight, but most head straight to the “Village of Master Gelato Makers” to indulge in samples of some of the best gelato in the world.
May 25-27: The three-day Prague Food Festival celebrates the rich heritage of Czech cuisine and wine with a full array of classes and tastings. Hungry visitors graze on local specialties sold from tents set up throughout the Prague Castle grounds, and restaurants across the city have festival menus featuring unique Czech recipes.
May 26-27: San Francisco’s Mission District bursts into multicultural color during Carnaval San Francisco. Attendees can enjoy music and dance performances from around the world, as well as Sunday’s Grand Carnaval Parade, a Rio-style parade/street party with wild costumes and lively music.